By Ehsan Qureshi at National Stadium, Karachi
(Pakistan News & Features Services)
Skipper Babar Azam and Muhammad Rizwan powered Pakistan to seven-wicket victory over the West Indies to complete the expected 3-0 clean-sweep in T20 series which concluded on December 16.
The match was jeopardized when three more West Indian cricketers, Shai Hope, Akeal Hosein, and Justin Greaves tested positive for Covid-19, but it was decided to go ahead with the match and complete the T20 series.
The tourists were left to field a severely depleted side because they had had already lost Sheldon Cottrell, Roston Chase and Kyle Mayers, also due to Covid-19, at the start of the tour while Devon Thomas was ruled out after a finger injury. It went to their credit to have agreed to play the third game without the availability of seven players.
While the West Indians showed grace by staying on even with marginal resources at their disposal, the home side continued to enjoy with the rub of the green going their way until the very end. That Pakistan completed the series whitewash with the help of a dropped catch was another reflection of lady luck keeping their company all the way.
The hosts rode their luck to overhaul the total for the loss of only three wickets with seven balls to spare. It was their sixth successive T20 win over the West Indies in Pakistan. They had also swept them by the identical 3-0 scoreline in 2018. Pakistan ended the year 2021 year their 20th T20 win.
Babar, who was dismissed cheaply in the earlier two matches, returned to top form with another sterling knock. He made 79 off 53 balls with nine sizzling fours and two sixes. The openers put on 158 off 91 balls for the first wicket. Rizwan and Fakhar Zaman continued to attack the bowlers the requirement was down to 24 off 16 balls when the former fell after scoring 87 off 45 balls with the help of three sixes and 10 fours.
As in the previous game, the young West Indian side showed flashes of brilliance but choked at key moments. They must have felt happy at having posted a competitive total of 207 for three which was their best at the ground which obviously proved inadequate in the end.
Captain Nichollas Pooran, Samrah Brooks and Brandon King produced the best batting display of the tour. The top three West Indian batters blasted no less than a dozen sixes to demonstrate their big hitting prowess.
Pooran batted fearlessly while hammering 64 off 37 balls with the help of half a dozen sixes and two fours. Brooks mustered 49 off 31 balls, spiced with four sixes and two fours while King cracked 21-ball 43 with seven fours and brace of sixes. Curiously, though, Darren Bravo didn’t hit any six in his unbeaten 34 off 27 balls which denied the visitors some crucial runs in the death overs.
King and Brooks had provided the West Indies a flying start of 66 in power play. Brooks was in a punishing mood as he lifted premier spinner Shadab Khan for three sixes in a row. The momentum was sustained by Pooran but Bravo, coming in at number four, remained unusually quiet and returned unbeaten without belting the bowlers.
Muhammad Wasim (2-44) was the most successful home bowler but Shahnawaz Dahani delivered an economical spell of one for 24 in four overs. Fast bowler Muhammad Hasnain, making a comeback, was hit all over the park, conceding 48 runs in four overs without taking any wicket.